Motivation can be defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”
I once heard the story of a teenager who lost a contact lens while playing basketball in his driveway. After a fruitless search, he told his mother the lens was nowhere to be found. Undaunted, she went outside and in a few minutes returned with the lens in her hand. “I really looked hard for that, Mom,” said the youth. “How’d you manage to find it?”
“We weren’t looking for the same thing,” she replied. “You were looking for a small piece of plastic. I was looking for $150.”
Most of motivation is attitude.
And, like all “attitude” related things, there is a constant need to keep the fire lit.
I read about one enterprising home builder who found a way to motivate his employees. For exceptional work, he names streets after them in his housing developments. Robert Orben is famous for saying, “Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” In a recent Michigan State University study, 97% of the faculty members and staff who bet $100 that they could stay with a six-month exercise program were successful. Only 19% of a non-betting group stayed with their six-month program, however.
When we have an incentive, our behavior is different. It’s a motivator. How does a person add this motivation to his or her life on a regular, daily basis?
Harry Emerson Fosdick once told how as a child, his mother sent him to pick a quart of raspberries. Reluctantly he dragged himself to the berry patch. His afternoon was ruined for sure. Then a thought hit him. He would surprise his mother and pick two quarts of raspberries instead of one. Rather than drudgery his work now became a challenge. He enjoyed picking those raspberries so much that fifty years later that incident was still fresh in his mind. The job hadn’t changed. His attitude had, though, and attitude is everything.
Maybe it’s just a slight tweak of your goal or your purpose. Maybe it’s using a different language.
Despite the “Do Not Touch” signs, a museum was having no success in keeping patrons from touching–and soiling–priceless furniture and art. But the problem evaporated overnight when a clever museum employee replaced the signs with ones that read: “Caution: Wash Hands After Touching!”
I recently read 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself by Steve Chandler. Here are ten of those ways with which I resonated:
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Most of our life goals are designed to make us comfortable. Eventually, we are stuck in a place where we are no longer challenged and without challenge, we live in a rut. Look for something you know would be challenging and do it.
Be A List Writer
I believe in list writing because it’s helped me. Sometimes people think it’s trite to make a list, but when we do, we are projecting an image of what the end of the day looks like. I once heard a story of a consultant who suggested that an entire corporation of employees make a list of six things they needed to do that day. Before they could move to item number 2, they had to complete item number 1, and so on down the list. The CEO asked how much he owned the consultant for the work and advice to which the consultant answered, “Pay me what you think it’s worth in three months.” At the end of the three months, after seeing incredible success, the CEO wrote the consultant a check for $100,000. LIsts can be great motivators.
Add a Zero
Sometimes, our goals are so incremental that we aren’t inspired or motivated to think big. Try adding a zero to the project or goal you have. If you are trying to break an attendance barrier at church, don’t think about just figuring out a way to get 200 people there. Think about how get 2000 people there! This big thinking will help you come up with big ideas and motivate change.
Make Small Goals
We have big dreams, but we also have to do what needs to be done today. Instead of allowing a huge goal to get buried, come up with the small goal that you will do today. If you want to start a blog, don’t think about the big picture, for today, just have a small goal of writing ten headline topics you would like to write about.
Do It Terribly
Give yourself permission to do the job terribly. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we want it to be perfect and we don’t have time for perfection. I once heard it said that if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing terribly. As you wade into your work, free from the hindrance of having to be perfect, you will find that you actually are able to work hard, do it well, and get it done.
Competition is a huge boost to motivation. When you set time limits, compete with someone else, set calling goals or other self-imposed competitive incentives, you are most likely able to get more motivation. In addition to getting the job done or the goal accomplished, it’s also more fun.
Ask lots of questions. When getting ready to meet with someone, don’t prepare answers, prepare to be curious. Get in the habit of asking questions, learn all you can, and in this way, you will become motivated.
Run Toward Your Fear
This may be obvious, but as you tackle your greatest fears, little problems in your life seem to dissolve. When fear grips us our motivation stalls.
Lincoln used to drive his law partners crazy. Every morning he would arrive at the office and read the paper aloud. Evidently, for him, reading aloud doubled the impact, helped him remember it more clearly and for longer amounts of time.
Don’t Use Your Imagination For Worry
Worry is a misuse of the imagination. Use your creative thinking to dream about your purpose, mission, and calling, not the negative aspects or potential problems.
You can pick up a copy of 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself here.
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